Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cindi's Call- Part One

Ladies and gentleman! Without further ado, I present to you my very first serial!

“So what’ve we got here?” Brown asked, reaching for the folder.

“Missing person with a twist,” Sykes replied.

“Let me guess, she was just seen by several people the day before her disappearance.”
“Nope, do you want to keep guessing or do you want me to tell you?”

“Just tell me, I’m too tired to do the guessing game tonight.”

“Her personal trainer reported it.”

“So, where’s the twist?”

“Look at the name of the personal trainer.”

Brown opened the folder and looked over the report. The call had come from a c-170c version holographic in-home personal trainer calling itself “Cindi”. Brown laughed to himself. It was exactly what he needed, another computer assuming it knew protocol better than he did. He was so not in the mood for this tonight.

“Baker pass this down to you?”

“Nope, came straight from the captain,” Sykes replied with an irritating smile.

“The captain? Why would he care? Where is he?” Brown peered around his filling cabinet (electronic filing system my ass, he thought) to see the captain inside his office with the door closed. Looking through the window he could see that he didn’t have anyone in there and decided to chance it.

“I’m gonna ask him,” he said, pushing up from his desk.

“Ok, your funeral,” Sykes warned.

“You just don’t have my skills of persuasion,” Brown said with as much cockiness as he could manage without laughing. Sykes raised an eyebrow at him as he walked away to what he could only assume would be a much-deserved chewing out.

It was the sixth case like this they’d received in two months and it seemed like the frequency was increasing. The last time they’d managed to get off the case by procrastinating their closure of one involving real people but Brown knew that kind of shit wouldn’t fly more than once. He didn’t think he’d have to be brainstorming all these new and ingenious ways to get the cases shifted to other people but the skill was becoming a necessity. Tonight he planned to employ his laid-back “buddies” approach with the captain. It could be a risky move depending on how bad things had gone downtown but he was banking on the captain’s new girlfriend he’d seen stop by for lunch to keep him in a good mood.

Brown knocked on the door quietly but insistently. No answer. He peered through the window and smiled at the captain who ignored him. He knocked again. The captain looked up from what appeared to be a non-interstation report and looked at him with an irritated expression. Brown smiled, waved and motioned that he come inside. The captain seemed to deflate as he sighed and waved him in.

“What do you want?” he said with the same irritation Brown had seen on his face.

“Nothing, nothing- just wondering why we’re wasting time on a paranoid android,” he said in his best good ‘ol boy voice.

“Which reason do you want? The fact that in order to maintain good public relations and try to maintain our budget we have to be seen as respecting all lifestyles including those with are not biologically alive? Or the fact that the alternative intelligence society is on our ass for ignoring the last call from an artificial intelligence housecleaner that turned out to be a real lead?” The volume of his voice was growing slowly but noticeably and Brown was quickly realizing how huge of a mistake he’d made by coming in here.

“Captain, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-“

“Or hey, here’s a good one,” he cut him off angrily. “How about the fact that since several members of this department including yourself are already under scrutiny from the commissioner due to suspected discrimination on casing we can’t afford to pass up a single lead; especially one coming from a detective who has conveniently been detained on other cases and been unable to follow up on leads from A.I.’s in the past?”

“Captain, I assure you I-“

“Do you really want to interrupt me right now? Really?” He squinted at him. Brown looked down to try to avoid eye contact and noticed the papers the captain’d been reading. Divorce papers. Fuck. He promptly shut his mouth, set his jaw tight and stood there.

“That’s what I thought. Well to make sure that you leave here with a perfectly clear understanding of your assignment since that is obviously so important to you I have one final reason.” He paused, waiting for Brown to interrupt again. Brown looked him straight in the eye, pushed back his shoulders, and said nothing.

“I’m your boss and if I give you an order, you follow it. Got it?”

Brown nodded at him with his jaw set in a firm but submissive line and waited for a sign that he could leave.

“Any other questions that just can’t wait?”

Brown shook his head, just once. He couldn’t be seen as angry at the reprimand, sympathetic for his personal life or anything else even remotely emotional if he wanted to get out of here alive. So he strove for unreadability. Not that he expected to fool him, but he had to at least make the effort. The captain looked him over thoroughly and waited for him to make a sign that he was pissed, or defiant, or anything else. But he was working really hard to keep it all under the surface and he decided to reward him by excusing him.

“Go do your job,” he dismissed him with a firm wave of his hand. Brown didn’t quite bolt but made his way out of the office in as quick a professional walk as he could manage and quietly closed the door behind him. He made his way back to his desk, slapped the folder down on the table and grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair, shoving his hand into the sleeve violently.

“Let’s go, Sykes.”

“That good, huh?” he smirked.

“Don’t,” he said with as much rage as he could put into one syllable. The smile vanished from Sykes' face instantly and he grabbed his jacket to follow his partner out of the station.

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